Flu season impacted health, productivity

More people called in sick in January then any other month in 5 years


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As one of the worst flu seasons in history winds down, we're getting a better idea of how bad it impacted people.

A new report indicates it didn't only take a toll on people's health, but even more so, their productivity.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just recently said that more people called into work sick in January than during any other month in about five years.

Dr. Rene Pulido said people with the flu come in every single day.

He said although the season is dying down, he is still seeing lots of patients who've caught the dreadful flu.

Dr. Pulido added that December and January were the worst months.

"I can say that during the month of December, it was at least 20, possibly 30 percent of the patients that were coming in, were new patient walk-ins that simply had flu like symptoms," Dr. Pulido said.

The stronger the flu, the longer the time people spent out of work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed people and found almost 2.9 million full-time workers only worked part time during the week they were sick and more than 1.2 million people were off the whole week.

That's the highest number of people calling in sick since February 2008 when 1.3 million people missed a full week of work.

"At the end of the day, I've noticed few medications that just work better then you know homemade chicken soup," Dr. Pulido said. "Two long hot showers a day and you know two or three days in bed."

Those few days in bed means a few days out of work.

Dr. Pulido said writing excuses for sick patients is part of his job. The number of days he suggests depends of the severity of each person's symptoms.

"Unfortunately if they don't get enough rest and I put them back to work too early, this can actually make things worse and they don't heal well," Dr. Pulido said. These are the type of things that bring on secondary complications such as pneumonia."

Dr. Pulido also said recommending sick people to stay home is him looking out for those who are healthy by trying to keep people from going to work and spreading their sickness.

This flu season has also sparked up a debate amongst lawmakers about required paid sick leave.

The Bureau of Labor statistics says about 66 percent of workers have access to paid sick leave.